"Till death do us part" doesn't seem to be the mantra these days; instead, attorneys are on speed dial. Divorce is a very emotional time and mistakes -- big mistakes -- can be made when one's mind is clouded with anger, bitterness and sadness. When considering the Big D, it would be prudent to examine these five mistakes that people make that can greatly impact their future.
1. Not meeting with a financial planner before mediation. What good is fighting for the house only to find out after mediation that you will not be able to afford it and that perhaps the apartment building with it's income potential would have been a better choice? Sitting down and having a clear picture of your finances pre-mediation is imperative.
2. Not getting all your ducks in a row before telling your spouse you want out. Get organized by having a clear picture of what you have, i.e.; inventory of household items, financial records, credit report, along with establishing a separate checking account and putting feelers out in terms of future employment. This is not about being deceitful, it is about protecting yourself, your interests and ultimately, your future.
3. Waiting for the "breakup backlash" before seeking a support system. Emotions run the gamut before, during and after a divorce. Decisions are made when you might not be at the best place emotionally to make them. Seeking out someone who can help you keep everything in perspective can save you quite a bit of emotional pain and even money down the road. What you are feeling presently might not equate to what will be fair in mediation and it is important to have someone that can draw you back to reality. Many people get stuck on the concept of fairness and it makes moving forward very difficult. Having someone who can help you look beyond your current pain at any potential problems and plan and address them at mediation will pay off in the end.
4. Not dissecting your reasons for wanting out. Divorce is not a snap decision made out of emotions. Don't rush to judgment because you might just be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Ask yourself, "Is this my state of mind or the reality of my marriage?" By looking inward, you might see that divorce is not the solution to your problems and that the marriage is not the only thing that is preventing you from being "happy". Perhaps it is something within you or maybe it is about reshuffling the deck -- a wake up call on the path to a better marriage. Do you want out because there is abuse, disrespect, gambling, drugs, putting the family in jeopardy or is it boredom, lost of interest, lack of intimacy or no communication? Be very clear on your reasons so that you do not start your new journey with regrets.
5. Quitting your job or cutting back on hours. This is not uncommon but can and will backfire on you. This is called "willful underemployment" and is commonly used by the higher earning spouse in the hopes of paying less alimony and child support. Beware, this behavior is not new to a judge and is frowned upon, as it appears you are trying to abandon your responsibilities. In the end, you just might be creating a nightmare for yourself by having to pay alimony and child support you no longer have the income to cover. Word to the wise: think again on this one!
Divorce is no walk in the park but there are things that you can do to make getting through this time easier and less painful, such as being aware of these five most common mistakes. A lot of the expense and poor decisions during a divorce are motivated by revenge, anger and bitterness. Understanding that by allowing these emotions to be the driving force throughout the divorce, can cost you your relationship with your children, family and friends as well as financially and ultimately, your own peace.
Debbie Martinez, the Divorce Whisperer, is a certified life coach specializing in divorce as well as a Supreme Court certified family mediator with a private practice in South Florida. She can be contacted at www.thepowerofdivorcecoach.com